ROCKFORD — Boylan doesn’t dunk much or do anything spectacular. What the Titans do best is adapt and do whatever it takes. They won a share of their third consecutive NIC-10 boys basketball title last year primarily by going 12-2 in games decided by six or fewer points.
“One of our strengths is being able to play a different game if we need to,” coach Brett McAllister said. “We can go either up tempo or slow it down if we have to. We’re proud of being able to play multiple different styles of games. That pays off for us.”
So does the Titans defense.
“It’s part of our culture to be really tough defensively,” McAllister said. “That’s always at the top of our list. We make rebounding very important as well.
“Something we preach that people might not see, that goes along with that, is we really try to take away what the opponent does best, whether that’s a particular play or a particular action. We can play at whatever pace we want, and that’s great, but we have to take away the opponent’s strengths.”
This might be the year Boylan’s title streak ends, with East armed with three possible Division I recruits. But the Titans were picked only fifth last year and still tied preseason favorite Jefferson for first. This year, Boylan is the second choice, but three returning starters, including budding star forward Anthony Brown and a deep, deep bench, could bring Boylan a fourth consecutive title.
“Our biggest strength is depth. Where it really pays off is with our level of competition in practice,” McAllister said. “We try to make things as difficult or more difficult than they would see in games. When you are looking across at somebody just as good as you or even better every day, that elevates you in a hurry.”
Matt Trowbridge: 815-987-1383; email@example.com; @matttrowbridge
Titans at a glance
Coach: Brett McAllister (3rd year, 49-16)
Last season: 22-11 (13-3)
Predicted finish: 2nd
Returning starters: Jake Bergstrom (6-2 Sr. G), Anthony Brown (6-4 Jr. F), John Starck (5-10 Jr. G).
Other key players: Johnny Close (6-2 Jr. G), Luke Bergstrom (6-1 Sr. G), Max Kwiatkowski (6-3 Sr. F), CJ Couper (6-1 Sr. G), Dayvion Foreman (5-10 Jr. G), Jack Fulling (6-1 Jr. G), Zac Farson (6-1 Jr. G), Andrew Latino (5-10 Jr. G), Justin Kerestes (6-4 Jr. F), Joseph Krein (5-11 Sr. G), Thomas Furst (6-4 Sr. C), Braden Droessler (6-0 Jr. G), Aidan Farr (5-10 Jr. G).
Strengths: Shooting, depth at multiple positions, experience, mental toughness.
Weaknesses: Lack of size, inside scoring.
Outlook: The three-time defending NIC-10 champs also finished second on the sophomore level (13-3) and third in the freshman standings (11-5) last year. The Titans came within one game of reaching state last year by going 12-2 in games decided by six points or fewer. They may have to repeat that to win a fourth consecutive title. “We were able to get many players big-game experience last year,” coach Brett McAllister said. “Our schedule will test us all season in preparation for March.”